Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Braves’ Hart is open to mentoring GM role

  • 2:18 pm Thursday, September 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Braves interim GM John Hart acknowledged he's open to mentoring a young general manager. (AP photo)

Since the moment the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren, there has been speculation that the team would elevate senior adviser John Hart to the role, if not on a permanent basis then at least as a mentor to young rising assistant. Hart has mostly been evasive or issued non-denial denials with his comments, other than to say he wouldn’t pursue the GM’s position on a long-term basis.

That changed a little Thursday.

Hart, the team’s interim general manager, acknowledged that he and team president John Schuerholz have had conversations about him taking the job on a short-term basis if a young [More]

Braves’ opponents often celebrate here

  • 9:51 am Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Freddie Freeman and Braves have had reason to be angry, and another may be coming tonight. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

UPDATE: Here’s a link to tonight’s MyAJC column, addressing how much responsibility manager Fredi Gonzalez shares for this season.

The Braves have been dead in the National League East for a while. But adding an element of humiliation to the recent free fall is that Washington, which is on the verge of clinching the division title, can celebrate at Turner Field with a win tonight or Wednesday.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Braves have seen another team celebrate on its home field (either Turner or Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium). Since 1992, the Braves have lost postseason elimination games at [More]

Braves find a groove — but so do Nationals

  • 9:21 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Braves have won five straight but remain six games behind Washington. (AP photo)

Six days ago, on the eve of the Braves’ “Zombie Night” promotion at Turner Field, I wrote a column on the Braves’ seeming march into the regular season afterlife and the reasons manager Fredi Gonzalez needed to bench the struggling B.J Upton. At that point, they had lost 12 of 15 games and 17 of 26 since the All-Star break.

A follow-up blog and cartoon posed the question to you, “Is the fat lady singing” on their season?” Most readers believed yes. I certainly believed yes. When it comes to the division race, I still think yes. But it [More]

With Braves six back, is ‘fat lady’ singing?

  • 8:39 am Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
BravesfatLadyJeff

So is it over?

The Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 Thursday. If you missed the almost-too-perfect inglorious ending, here’s a free link to my column on the game.

In brief, Justin Upton had to leave the game with a strained hamstring. His lesser brother B.J., who had been benched from the starting lineup because he’s hitting .209, was sent in as a pinch runner. He stayed in the game, and, of course, wound up being the key at-bat in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third base, B.J., batting in Justin’s spot, struck out.

The strikeout numbers [More]

Braves’ crowds reflect lack of confidence

  • 9:00 am Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dodgers at Braves

As the Braves begin to slide out of the playoff race — or at least show no sign of having interest in it — they also are sliding off the radar in Atlanta.

Crowds for the first two games of the weekend series against Washington last week drew over 30,000 but the Sunday night game saw only 18,191 in the stadium. I realize it was the night before the first day of school for many kids, but for a late-summer weekend series against the Nationals with first place on the line, the numbers were disappointing. It also was stunning that the [More]

Poll: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall?

  • 9:19 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners

The Braves are back home after an eight-game road trip. There will be no parade today.

They lost all eight games — swept in consecutive series in Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. It’s the first time something like that has happened since the 1949 Boston Braves went 0-8 on a trip. That’s so long ago that, as historian David O’Brien noted, Warren Spahn was in the starting rotation.

More miserable numbers: The Braves scored only 18 runs in the eight games (three of which went extra innings) for an average of 2.25 runs per game. They also are 6-13 since [More]

Trade deadline day … and it’s quiet here (update: minor trade)

  • 9:01 am Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Trying to picture David Price in a Braves' uniform? Don't waste your time. (AP)

UPDATE: As you probably know by now, the Braves made a minor trade, dealing catching prospect Victor Caratini to the Chicago Cubs for utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and left-handed reliever James Russell. It was exactly the kind of deal that general manager Frank Wren was expected to make, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to get the Braves to the postseason because of fundamental flaws on the roster and in the clubhouse. I wrote a full column on this topic over at MyAJC.com. Here’s a free link. Thanks, J

Good morning. The major league trade deadline is at [More]

Braves out of first — not they deserved to be there

  • 11:30 pm Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Ervin Santana was dinged early with a first-inning homer by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. (Curtis Compton)

You know that question some people have asked about the Braves: How is this team in first place? Well, there’s no reason to ask that question right now.

In losing to the last-place Philadelphia Phillies for the second straight game 5-2 Tuesday night, the Braves fell one-half game behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East.

The significance of a half-game deficit with 92 games to go? Bupkis.

The significance of scoring three runs in two games over 22 innings against a Phillies team that ranked third from the bottom in the National League in ERA (3.95), as well as committing two [More]

Possible Braves’ moves: Bethancourt up, B.J. to bench?

  • 12:13 pm Monday, June 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
If Gerald Laird (left) and Christian Bethancourt are Braves' top catchers, Evan Gattis would move to outfield. (Curtis Compton)

For most of this season, the Braves have had problems with their offense.

For most of this season, the problems at least partly trace back to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton.

But is it possible that two players who combine for $26.45 million in salary this season both will be on the bench soon? Uggla already has lost his starting second base job to rookie Tommy La Stella and Upton may soon lose his as well.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com has an interesting blog in which he lays out a scenario the Braves are considering for a roster shake-up, and I [More]

Is it time to drop Freeman in batting order?

  • 1:09 am Sunday, June 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Freddie Freeman is hitting only .182 over his last 24 games. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

That a Braves’ hitter is in a tailspin is not unusual.

That it’s Freddie Freeman is like some nonsensical alternate universe.

Freeman has been one of the team’s best and certainly most consistent hitters since 2011. He was the team’s best player a year ago, hitting .319 with 23 homers, 109 RBIs and a team-leading OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .897. When he hit .397 in the first 18 games this season, all seemed well. Then came weirdness with a .227 average in 48 games and .188 in the last 23 before Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe Saturday [More]